Fast Food Nation

It did not come as much of a surprise to find that so-called fast food is not the healthiest food in the world.

Fast Food Nation BookIt did not come as much of a surprise to find that so-called fast food is not the healthiest food in the world. It was certainly no surprise to discover that the fast food chains are not the greatest employers in the world. It wasn’t unexpected to read that the big brands employ so many people that they wield great economic power.

What did, however, surprise and alarm me was the sheer influence Eric Schlosser claims the fast food companies have over the whole food chain and related economies. Is it really in the consumer’s best interests for the large food giants to have such a firm grip on the production of the raw materials that make up their final products? It is suggested that this power has knock-on effects on the health of (not only) consumers but on the shape of the entire economy.

Schlosser’s book makes disturbing reading. It’s unashamedly populist in its approach, suggesting that economic gain and corporate profit are more important than the well-being of the consumers. However, regardless of the author’s standpoint much of the evidence he produces is damming and that makes it a compelling read. If you’ve ever eaten fast food you should read it. It has certainly made me think harder about ordering anything “with fries to go”.

The Full Monty

I saw The Full Monty at The Prince of Wales Theatre, London, last night. I have to admit that it was a lot better than I expected it to be. The central story that you’d recognise from the film is there but it has been adapted for the stage and re-set in Buffalo, New York.

In particular, the introduction of some new characters (the excellent Lynda Baron as Jeanette and the lovely Julian Essex-Spurrier as Keno, a professional male stripper) helps the story along well. The songs were strong and I shall be looking forward to getting the CD. In my opinion, Ben Richards (Jerry) was excellent as the show’s main character – which is useful, as he does seem to have a majority of the show to carry. The rest of the cast were great: Paul Keating made Ethan into a amusing character, adding a slap-stick dimension to the humour and David Ganly carried Dave’s insecurities and vulnerabilities well.

Without taking anything away from the show I would have liked to see it set back in the UK and the main narrative driver (Jerry’s need for money to keep seeing his son) was somewhat unbelievable (even for a West-End Musical). However, if you fancy an evening in a theatre that is 70% groups of women (although it didn’t seem overly hen-nighty) then I would thoroughly recommend it.

Matt Damon is Jason Bourne

Matt Damon is pumped up in The Bourne Identity

I saw a pumped up Matt Damon on The Bourne Identity last weekend. Sadly, I am a sucker for this kind of action-movie. They have little point but tell a tale that absorbs your for 90 minutes and gives you an all-action thrill for some of that time. What more do you want from a cinema-going experience?

My Review: Who would that thought Matt Damon could, convincingly, play the international agent? Yet a beefed up-Matt holds his own in the world of blockbuster-espionage – that’s a world of martial art acrobatics and high-speed car chases down back alleyways (and flights of stairs). Franka Potente manages to keep the role of Marie convincing when many would have just walked away from Jason Bourne (Damon) at their first meeting. It’s a Friday night, action-packed, spy-game blockbuster (with a twist of amnesia) and, unfortunately, nothing more.

See also: Matt Damon as Man of the Moment.

Around The World

Two contrasting stories from around the world.

Two contrasting stories:

South Africa’s highest court ruled Tuesday that gay and lesbian couples can adopt children, becoming one of only a handful of countries to sanction the step [CNN].

A recent report by Los Angeles County shows that hate crimes were up in 2001, with the bulk of new attacks based on Sept. 11 backlash and an increased number of assaults against the GLBT community [PlanetOut]

Confusing, Image-Saturated Culture

When did you learn about the birds and the bees? I have to be honest and say that I really don’t recall any parental talk and I am not sure how I would have felt about it – especially since I knew I was gay.

Well, according to The Christian Science Monitor (obviously not something I read everyday)

while it may seem that youths are more attuned to peers, media, and pop culture, experts and teens alike say parents are needed as role models and cultivators of values in today’s confusing, image-saturated culture

Source:  The Christian Science Monitor | Story Via Metafilter

I am sure I should say some more here but I’m not sure what.

I Keep Buying Books

How did I end up with a book from a seafood festival?

I went to a small thames-side seafood festival on Saturday. I had no other reason to go execpt that I adore seafood in all forms. I could happily give up many other foods but not seafood (and probably no bacon, but I know I am not alone in that).

That, however, is not the point.

There was a bookshop and I bought a book. I carried the book home and added it to the pile of books. I now have a large stack of unread books that are “to be read”. When am I going to find the time? The thing is, why do I do it? Why can’t I simply add them to my Amazon wish list and stop buying? It’s turning into an addiction!!

Time

This is the last day of August. Why is it that time seems to go by much more quickly as you get older? Is this just an age thing? Clearly, time passes at the same rate – although I probably spend more time asleep at this point in my life (and, to the best of my knoweldge, I haven’t slept for six months).

Temptation

I am a PC kinda-guy. Well, I was a Unix admin at one point (very briefly) but after spending a whole night loading Linux from 80 discs at work I opted for the relative ease of an out-of-the-box PC at home. But I am tempted by an Apple. Mybe it’s the underlying Unix-ness of it all that is appealing. Maybe it’s that my Windows XP box doesn’t really live up to my expectations. A friend of mine says, “I believe the tide of reason is finally beginning to lather the unwashed masses” – can you tell he’s a Mac guy? But it’s true. I’ve heard of several people who have gone Mac.

So, I came across a link to Ken. Now Ken is is an Apple product manager and he has a weblog which is worth the read. Even for PC-heads like me. [link thanks]

Blast Into Orbit

I have been fascinated by the weather since childhood. This is not your typical British interest in the weather – which is a necessity if you live in England’s green and pleasant lands. No, I really want to understand forecasting, cloud patterns and the like. The basics can’t be that hard. Yet, I have never, ever done anything about this.

There are other things I would like to do, too. Phonography, a course in British History or a wine appreciation course. Yet I never do any of them. So, first thing tomorrow I am off to buy one of those books that list evening courses and do something!

What started me off on this analysis of the things I should do? Well, news that a new weather satellite is to be launched. Meteorologists say the new technology will lead to better forecasts, especially for severe weather such as storms and fog. [BBC]

Fast Lane on Foot

I haven’t spoken of London’s traffic problems for a while now. This is because it’s a bad story and I am trying to be positive. I have not been overly delayed for sometime (although every taxi I take tries to navigate Trafalgar Square which is a automobile no-go zone at the moment).

I also realise that London is a big city which is home to many millions of people who all travel. It stands to reason then that, if the system should fail one day, movement will be difficult. I know that an integrated public transport system run (efficiently, effectively) for the people is a (very) long way off.

Still, it did amuse me to read that,

London’s road traffic is travelling at its slowest ever pace, averaging less than walking pace, according to a new report. [Yahoo]

Celebrities in Space

Ah, ITV (Britain’s original commercial televison network). From their website:

This channel – which has done more than most to build the cult of celebrity – has taken its first step toward atonement by placing a group of celebs (the type who take a bow each time the fridge light goes on) and place them in the Antipodean wilderness.

The programme is I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, which should be worth watching for the title alone. It’s made my day.

Now, when celebrity Lance Bass shouts, “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here”, it takes on a whole new meaning.

Lance, a member of boyband N’Sync may actually go into space. I thought this was a wind up when I first heard about it, but apparently not:

He is being sponsored by a consortium of major companies and Hollywood producer David Krieff, and has signed a preliminary contract for the mission – but recent reports have suggested that he has missed deadlines to pay the $20m flight fee. [BBC]

Half-Hearted Bollywood

You know when you don’t go to the cinema for, what seems like, an age and then you suddenly go quite a lot? No, well, I do this on-off thing with cinema quite a lot. Yesterday, following on from my Men In Black II experience, I went to see The Guru at The Clapham Picture House (which, if you live in this part of the world, probably ranks as one of the better cinemas and it’s not part of an overly large chain – although there are more of them then you would imagine).

The people I was with, loved it. They laughed (a lot). Many people in the cinema was laughing too. I smiled occasionally and there was the odd laugh but on the whole I was pretty quiet. So, to validate my lack of enthusiasm for the film (which seems to be generally well received) I got as far as The Guardian’s film site (which, I am sure was Film Unlimited at one point). Peter Bradshaw reassures me with,

There’s no bite or edge to this movie, though; it’s goofy, soft-centred romcom slush, with some very half-hearted Bollywood pastiche

and

… these moments don’t really justify the admission price [Full Review].

Now, I am using the web to reinforce my own opinions. This can’t be a good thing.

Not Hilarious or Surprising

Men in Black 2 posterStrange, zany, generally amusing and very likeable without actually being all that hilarious or surprising, Men In Black II relies heavily on familiarity with and affection for the original. Fans of that film, who are simply content with more of the same, should’n’t be dismayed or too seriously disappointed by a pleasantly insane bit of nonsense. [Empire Online]

This review tells almost all about my night last night. I went to UCI Sutton to see Men In Black II. I had enjoyed the first in a wash-over-me kind of way. Interest wanes at twenty minutes.

Around The World

A colleague of mine left work yesterday to go travelling and I was sad to see him go. He’s joining an ever growing list of people I know who are purchasing a back-pack and buying a ticket for six months. Three of my friends/acquaintances are in Australia travelling. One of my clients is off travelling.

What am I doing wrong?

Is it a coincidence that they all work in new media environments? And this morning I find that over at Jase’s homepage he links to this great travelling blog. The world is trying to tell me something!